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Trinity County News 2

Group raises funds for scholarships

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051321 fundraiser 1TONY FARKAS| TCNS Heather Stenson serves up a heaping tray of crawfish to a customer at the fourth annual crawfish boil fundraiser for the Trinity Community Fair Association, held Friday at the Trinity Community Center.

By Tony Farkas

TRINITY — Hot crawdads, smooth drinks and great tunes help put kids through school.

The Fourth Annual Trinity Community Fair Association Crawfish Boil Scholarship Fundraiser, held Friday at the Trinity Community Center, netted $10,600 for scholarships.

Even with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fundraiser ended up being the largest event to date, with the TCFA selling 900 tickets, or 90 tables, and feeding about 1,200 people, according to organizer Tally Jo Stout.

Stout said that every kid that shows at the Community Fair and generates $600 in the sale — be it through livestock or construction trades — gets a scholarship. That amounts to about 35 a year ranging from $250 to $750.

“The TCFA is investing in you, whether you go to college or go to trade school,” she said. “We do not care what — college, trade, even gaining a certification — but it has to be school-related. Typically, we generate $10,000 from this event, and we have an endowed scholarship donor who will match that amount.”

051321 fundraiser 2TONY FARKAS | TCNS Taylor Albright begins to dig into her tasty treat.

Stout said the scholarships go to the child no matter the age; however, if the child is not of graduation age, the money is held in an account with Edward Jones until the child graduates. If students join the military, scholarship funds are held until they separate from service.

The scholarships are awarded at the awards banquet held each year.

“Last year, both my children, Valerie and Jace, received scholarships of $1,400 apiece,” Stout said. “We’ve been able to give 15 so far, and the rest are sitting in escrow.”

As well as food, Double Shot of Livingston provided music for the night, and area distributors donated beverages of both the adult and child variety. The local FFA and volunteers set up tables; a good time was had by all.

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Schools to have students help students

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050621 trinity isd copyCOURTESY PHOTO The Trinity ISD Board of Education recognized employees of the month at the regular board meeting on April 26. Pictured are (from left) Keavin Searcy, board president; Gillian Campbell, director; Matt Curtis, Support Employee of the Month; Marci Loesch, Professional of the Month; Melissa Allbright, Paraprofessional of the Month; and Kelli Robinson, principal of Lansberry Elementary.

By Tony Farkas

TRINITY — Trinity ISD is looking at a new program to allow athletes to become mentors to other students.

Susan Green, counselor for Lansberry Elementary, said that the main objective of the mentor program is to support and improve the well-being of our students by providing a role model that can help support them academically, socially, and emotionally.

“Relationship building is a major theme of the program,” she said. “Students need to be able to make connections with people they can trust and feel comfortable talking to.”

The high school mentors gain experiences with listening and learning, working together for a common goal, flexibility, and leading by example. This year was a piloting program year to make sure the program will be sustainable and that it will benefit students and the community.

“I am looking forward to seeing the program grow and having a great impact on our students,” she said.

In other business, the board:

•approved the district’s BETA teams travel as they advance to national competition in Orlando, Fla. The district will pay for transportation and meals;

•approved updated operating procedures for the board;

•approved hiring Axley & Rode for the district’s annual audit;

•updated policies for facility rental for other functions;

•approved the 2021-22 allotment and TEKS Certification for textbooks and appointed a textbook committee;

•approved the lease/purchase of interactive flat panels for the remainder of the classrooms, and all teachers now have one available;

•approved the Trinity County Appraisal District budget; and

•approved renewals of teacher and counselor contracts.

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School to change weekly attendance

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050621 apple springsFILE PHOTO Apple springs calendar

By Tony Farkas

APPLE SPRINGS — The Apple Springs school district is going to four-day week.

Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, students will attend Tuesdays through Fridays, with Monday now being off. The measure was approved at the April 12 School Board meeting.

Superintendent Cody Moree said the move was something he had proposed the year before COVID hit, but for various reasons, it didn’t gain momentum; however, since then, several districts — Latexo, Corrigan-Camden, Oakwood, Calvert — have made the move, with good results.

Interest then picked back up, Moree said, and with other districts doing it and the rumors of more, Apple Springs began to move in that direction.

“I guess the word got around that those districts that have done so are glad; I talked to a board member in Corrigan who said it’s the best thing they’ve ever done,” he said.

Moree said the district first surveyed the parents electronically, through email and Facebook, which came back with 85 percent of respondents in favor of it. A paper survey came back at more than 90 percent in favor.

“We felt like we had community support,” he said. “We’re going to try it and hopefully it will turn out good.”

Moree said the immediate benefit will be teacher recruitment and retention, because small school districts can’t offer the same pay scale as larger ones.

“We have to compete with that, but we hope by offering this it will help recruiting good people and keep the people we have,” he said.

Additionally, Moree said there is an academic benefit with teachers and students spending longer, concentrated time on subjects, and students will be in the same room with a teacher.

“In the long run, the 20 percent rule kicks in; there will be better attendance because appointments can be made on off-days, teachers can make appointments during the week; we’re running the buses 20 percent less so transportations costs should drop,” he said. “With all those things, we think we’ll improve what we’re doing.”

With students being home an additional day, child care requirements and the effect on the district was discussed, and Moree said the change will be an adjustment for parents and families. However, one of the unintended consequences of the district dealing with the shutdown and changes because of COVID was parents making such arrangements, so the effect should be minimal, he said.

“We appreciate the support,” Moree said. “We’re trying to be innovative and look for better ways to teach the kids.”

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Two seek mayor’s post

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bennetandwaltonFILE PHOTO Ralph Bennett and Tommy Walton

By Tony Farkas

GROVETON — Two current members of the Groveton City Council are looking to become mayor.

The position is up for election, as the incumbent Byron Richards passed away from COVID unexpectedly.

Early voting ended Tuesday, and the regular election will be from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday. Polling will be done at the Groveton High School Auditorium

Ralph Bennett

Currently the mayor pro tem, Ralph Bennett said he wants to continue to bring about improvement in the community.

“I want to complete the projects we had started, such the downtown renovation and the water well, something me and Byron Richards had started on,” he said.

Bennett has served 14 years on the council, and currently is the Trinity County minority rep on the DETCOG board. He worked for 35 years at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, having retired from security in the Windham School District.

Additionally, he is treasurer and secretary of the Parker Ridge Cemetery Board in Groveton, and has more than 100 hours of continuing education from the Texas Municipal League.

“I’m experienced, and that is key for someone being mayor,” he said.

Aside from infrastructure, Bennett said the city needs to bring in new businesses, and especially needs to improve our road systems. He also intends to work with the state to make sure there is adequate broadband coverage in the area.

“My top priority right now is securing a water well to have a reliable water source for the city,” he said. “This will become a fight down the road, but it is important to the growth of our community.”

Tommy Walton

Grant funds are the key to moving the city forward, and Council Member Tommy Walton said his main focus will be the continuation of numerous projects that are in process.

A few of those include water meter replacement, wastewater retention pond renovation, purchase of a water well, downtown renovation and water line replacement — in all about $7.1 million.

“Most of these projects are not something that the residents see every day, but are necessary to the running of an efficient city,” he said. “This is the result of lots of planning and lots of searching for grants. My goal is to qualify and obtain as many grants as we possibly can. It will make our projects move slower than what I would like, but we have to live within our means and I think the voters of Groveton will expect no less.”

Walton said Groveton is a small town with a limited tax base, and if the city tried to do these projects with raising property taxes, taxes would be so high that no one could afford to live here.

Other areas of focus include making City Hall and the Mayor more accessible, and involving residents in special projects, making use of any professionals in the area for their advice and knowledge. Additionally, the beautification of the city of Groveton is also high on Walton’s list of priorities, and all of it needs to be dealt with in a five-year plan.

“Running the City is not a one man show; it involves the Mayor, the City Council, the office staff, the road and bridge staff, the Police Department, animal control, etc.,” he said. “The Mayor is there to help guide the direction and plan for the future. I will always be focused on our future.”

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Going out on top

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cole 91COURTESY PHOTO 17 year old Groveton Senior, Cole Sullivan, took the honors BACK TO BACK of winning Overall Reserve Supreme Continental Heifer at both Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo. 

Livestock master ends career on a high note 

Special to the News-Standard 

TRINITY — Cole Sullivan is no stranger to success both in and out of the livestock show ring.  

At the age of 8, he purchased his first show heifer named Sadie. Since that time Sadie has produced multiple Trinity County Fair and Youth Livestock Show Grand Champion steers as well as prize-winning show heifers.  

Cole has continued his journey in agriculture with high-quality livestock, but has found his niche in the Limousin breed, gaining prominence by winning local, state and international shows. Cole competes with the largest breeders from all over the United States and, of course, locally in Texas. Cole’s vision for success is a big and bright as Texas. 

Setting goals  

As a family, the Sullivans traveled all over the United States during the year in order for Cole and his brother, Jack Cutter, to compete.  

Livestock showing isn’t for the faint at heart — it’s early mornings and late nights, physical labor with no vacations; Cole will tell you, though, his vacations are in the showring with his show family and friends.  

Even though this year was difficult — a national pandemic, livestock shows cancelling or rescheduling repeatedly— still, Cole racked up an impressive record. When cattle were purchased, raised and bred for specific time frames and shows cancel, Cole and his breeder had to regroup.  

“God always has a plan so trust him,” Cole said. “I let Mother Nature work her course, and in the end, I couldn’t be prouder of myself and decisions that I made back in the fall.”  

Cole decided to show Skittles and Barbara for his last run. Skittles, so named “because she literally was crazy and I have tasted every color of the crazy rainbow with her,” proved a challenge, and Cole said he didn’t think the purebred Limousin would ever get halter broke or show ready.  

cole 2COURTESY PHOTO When hand shakes were taken over by fist bumps on Champion selections!

One day, though, it just clicked, and Skittles ended up being phenomenal, winning Grand Champion Limousin at both Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo. She also went on to win Overall Reserve Supreme Continental Heifer at both shows.  

Cole also won Showmanship at Houston with her, the one he didn’t know if he would ever step into a ring with. 

Consistency, hard work, dedication, collaboration and compassion are a few words that seem to come up around Cole in regard to success in the agriculture and livestock industries. He is most proud to have been able to travel so many miles with family and friends over the years and will continue to raise high quality show cattle for future exhibitors.  

“We are the voice of agriculture,” Cole said. “It can’t be lost or forgotten. Value your worth and work ethic. Don’t let the negativity drive the positivity away. If you want something, don’t settle for less.” 

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